"Give me sixty-five cents more," my boyfriend Bradley said to me, as we rode downtown in a cab.
"Why?"I asked?" I really didn't know.
"Give me sixty-five cents" he insisted. "Hurry. The driver is stopping."
As the taxi slowed down to let me me out, I divided the meter total and added the tip. As I carefully handed the money to Bradley, he whispered. "Because I live two blocks further downtown than you do. By the time the taxi reaches my house, I will owe one dollar and thirty cents more." He held out his hand. "Your share of the extra is sixty-five cents."
My boyfriend wasn't cheap, he was CHEAP.
But a taxi ride isn't what I want to tell you about today. We'll cover that some other time.
Bradley had a nasty habit. One might call it Salad Syndrome.
It had been going on for months.
Once a month, six of us went out to dinner on Saturday night. We all worked hard and lived frugally. Our monthly Saturday dinner was our one evening to splurge.
That night, Etta ordered the fish.
Peter ordered the steak.
Well, you get the idea. I don't have to go around the whole table telling you what everyone ordered.
Then it was Bradley's turn. "I'm not hungry tonight," Bradley would invariably say. "I'll just have the $3.50 house salad."
"That's all you want, Bradley?" I asked mockingly. "Certainly you want more than a little salad..."
"Nope," he'd say every week. "That will fill me up."
"One side salad it is," the waiter repeated, giving Bradley a sideward glance.
This wasn't MacDonald's here.
This was a real restaurant.
With real table cloths.
And real knives and forks. Not plastic.
The food arrived.
Etta got her fish.....
Yeah, yeah, I know I don't have to tell you what everyone ordered.
"And one house side salad for the gentleman," said the waiter. Did I imagine it or did he slam the salad down onto the table in front of Bradley?
"Dig in everyone!" Etta said excitedly.
Then the fun would begin.
"Etta," Bradley said, "That fish looks so good. May I have a taste?" Etta looked at him with disgust. This was not the first time. he had made this type of request.
"I'll just take a little taste," he said as he cut off a third of her portion. "Ummmm....good," he said, smacking his lips.
Then on to Jack. "Mind if I take a little taste of your steak? he asked. His knife and fork were already on the plate. "I hear the steak is really good here." Again a third of the portion ended up on Bradley's plate.
Do I really have to explain te rest to you? Bradley went around the table and "sampled" everyone's dinner. By the time he was finished, he had eaten more than any of us.I imagine five good-sized portions of our dinners was quite satisfying....and let's not forget the house side salad which he ordered because he wasn't very hungry.
The check arrived.
We all settled up.
"My fish was $15.95 plus tax and tip." said Etta as she handed over her share of the check.
"My steak was $17.95 plus tax and tip," Jack said as he also paid his share.
I'm sure you get the idea without my spelling it out. Everyone paid their share of the bill.
Lastly (always lastly,) we heard from Bradley, "I had the $3.50 house salad. A five dollar bill should cover it."
"I'm sorry Steve," said Etta apologetically the next day, "We love going out with you, but Bradley has pulled his food tasting stunt for the last time....eating half our dinners and paying for a dinner salad." She went on, "I spend all this money and I don't get enough to eat....and all that bastard pays for is a dinner salad." I'm sorry Honey," she added, "but we just can't do this anymore."
I sat and thought about what Etta said for quite a while. She was right. The situation was ridiculous. As his partner, I was embarassed. What he was doing wasn't fair to our friends.
I wondered how teach Bradley a lesson.
It finally hit me.
I called Etta. "Just one more dinner. Please. Come with us next month. I promise you won't be disappointed."
"OK," she said warily. "Jack and I will be there on Saturday. But no more funny business from your boyfriend."
That Saturday arrived and the six of us met at the restaurant. Menus were placed at the table. Dinner was ordered.
Etta ordered first. "Let's see, " I'll have the lamb chop," she said. "And oh yes," she grinned, "and a house salad."
Jack ordered the fish and,"oh yes, a house salad."
As we went around the table, everyone ordered their entree. After ordering, each of us added "and a house salad."
Take a guess what Bradley ordered? Hint: It rhymes with Mouse Ballad.
"God!" Etta said, "I guess I'm not as hungry as I thought." She looked around. "Does anyone want my lamb chop?"
Bradley smiled like the Cheshire cat. "Pass it over, Etta. I'll see it doesn't go to waste." He dug into it like he hadn't eaten for days.
One by one, we took turns around the table. "I guess I don't feel like fish tonight." Jack declared. "Does anyone want it?"
Bradley's hand shot up. "Pass it here," Bradley said. I'll eat it after Etta's lamb chop.
None of us were especially hungry that night. Bradley ended up with five complete dinners. We all enjoyed our house salads as Bradley packed the food away.
Then the check came.
"Well, all I ate was the house salad. My share comes to $3.50 plus tax and tip." said Etta. She had just a little smirk on her face.
As we went around the room, everyone's paid for their house salad. That's all they ate. That's all they paid for.
"Three fifty plus tax and tip," said Fred as he laid the money on the table.
And then we got to Bradley. " House salad. Here's my $3.50," he offered and plunked the money on the table. He was still eating a chicken leg.
We all smiled at the same time. "How do you figure that?" I asked. "You just ate five complete dinners."
Bradley's mouth dropped open.
It was true.
The chicken leg dropped out of hisw mouth and onto his plate.
"By my addition," I continued. "You owe $125.75 with tip."
Bradley was speechless, but he couldn't argue with me.
Etta grinned. "You ate all the food. You pay the bill."
Bradley was not happy, but he took out his credit card and paid for the five dinners.That was probably more money than he had spent on food in six months.
We all smiled. Bradley had been beaten at his own game.
End of story, you say?
Learned his lesson, you might surmise.
"Make sure you give me that extra sixty-five cents," he reminded me as we took a cab home from the restaurant. "Don't forget I live two blocks away."
I gave Bradley his sixty-five cents and bid him a fond good-night.
And then I forever forgot that he lived two blocks away.